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First-in-Man: Case Report of Selective C-Reactive Protein Apheresis in a Patient with SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Jan Torzewski, Franz Heigl, Oliver Zimmermann, Florian Wagner, Christian Schumann, Reinhard Hettich, Christopher Bock, Stefan Kayser, Ahmed Sheriff

(Cardiovascular Center Oberallgäu-Kempten, Clinic Association Allgäu, Kempten, Germany)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e925020

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.925020


BACKGROUND: C-reactive protein (CRP) plasma levels in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a novel viral disease, are surprisingly high. Pulmonary inflammation with subsequent fibrosis in SARS-CoV-2 infection is strongly accelerated. Recently, we have developed CRP apheresis to selectively remove CRP from human plasma. CRP may contribute to organ failure and pulmonary fibrosis in SARS-CoV-2 infection by CRP-mediated complement and macrophage activation.
CASE REPORT: A 72-year-old male patient at high risk was referred with dyspnea and fever. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of throat smear revealed SARS-CoV-2 infection. CRP levels were ~200 mg/L. Two days after admission, CRP apheresis using the selective CRP adsorber (PentraSorb® CRP) was started. CRP apheresis was performed via peripheral venous access on days 2, 3, 4, and 5. Following a 2-day interruption, it was done via central venous access on days 7 and 8. Three days after admission the patient was transferred to the intensive care unit and intubated due to respiratory failure. Plasma CRP levels decreased by ~50% with peripheral (processed blood plasma ≤6000 mL) and by ~75% with central venous access (processed blood plasma ≤8000 mL), respectively. No apheresis-associated side effects were observed. After the 2-day interruption in apheresis, CRP levels rapidly re-increased (>400 mg/L) and the patient developed laboratory signs of multi-organ failure. When CRP apheresis was restarted, CRP levels and creatinine kinases (CK/CK-MB) declined again. Serum creatinine remained constant. Unfortunately, the patient died of respiratory failure on day 9 after admission.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report on CRP apheresis in a SARS-CoV-2 patient. SARS-CoV-2 may cause multi-organ failure in part by inducing an excessive CRP-mediated autoimmune response of the ancient innate immune system.

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